No longer is an Oyster Card needed to ride the London Underground – instead, commuters can simply tap their contactless credit card or now even their payment-enabled smartphone at the barriers to hop on board.
That's thanks to the launch of Apple Pay in Australia for iPhone users and Android NFC payment apps for both Commonwealth Bank and Westpac customers, and as the phone behaves just like a credit card, it's your ticket to the Tube.
Here's what you'll need to get started, and how you can easily keep track of your trips to assist with company expense claims or indeed your own travel budget.
Smartphone as an Oyster card: what you'll need
As the idea suggests, Apple users need a modern iPhone – either the 6, 6 Plus, 6s or 6s Plus – configured with Apple Pay (or a linked Apple Watch), and an American Express card issued directly by American Express Australia.
That includes cards like the American Express Qantas Premium card, the Platinum Charge card and the new $0 American Express Essential Card, although AMEX cards issued by ANZ, Commonwealth Bank, NAB or Westpac aren't yet supported.
Instead, CBA credit card customers toting any NFC-capable Android smartphone can fire up the 'CommBank' app and register their MasterCard or American Express card for contactless payments, as can Westpac customers with certain Samsung phones.
These include the Samsung Galaxy S6, S6 Edge, S6 Edge+, S5, S5 Mini, S4, Note 5, Note 4 Edge, Note 4, Note 3 and Alpha models, although not Android phones from other manufacturers like HTC and Sony.
Customers of all other banks or with other smartphone types may instead be able to obtain a 'pay tag' to enable smartphone contactless payments – for more information, contact your financial institution.
Smartphone as an Oyster card: how, where it works
Unlike in Australia where you'll need an Opal, Myki or Go Card to tap and go on public transport, Transport for London (TfL) accepts fare payments from not just its own Oyster cards but also contactless credit cards on most services.
That includes the Tube/Underground, London Overground, TfL Rail, Docklands Light Railway (DLR) and most National Rail services in London, along with the city's buses, trams and the 'Emirates Air Line' cable car.
Before you approach the ticketing barriers or hop on board, get your phone ready to make a payment – for Apple users, it's as simple as double-clicking on the iPhone's 'home' button while the phone is locked:
Android users running the Commonwealth Bank or Westpac apps will instead need to unlock their phone the normal way, open and sign-in to their bank's app and look for the 'tap and pay' option.
Then, hold your phone over the yellow card reader, just as you would a traditional Oyster card, and your fare will automatically be billed to your nominated credit card.
Smartphone as an Oyster card: fares, travel history
Using your smartphone to pay for your journey costs the same as a regular Oyster card pay-as-you-go fare, with the same daily and weekly fare caps that benefit Oyster users also offered to smartphone-paying commuters and which are applied automatically.
Just be sure to use the same payment card via your preferred app for every journey, otherwise the system can't calculate how many times you've travelled during your London visit and you'll continue to be charged for each trip.
Also remember that your bank's usual overseas transaction fees continue to apply – just as they do when using a credit card for any other overseas purchase – but as these fees are normally percentage-based it's no different to buying an Oyster card top-up the old way.
Only one charge will appear on your credit card statement each day which includes all of the travel you've done during that period, and by registering your card on the Transport for London website, you can easily keep tabs on your costs.
That's handy if you'll be submitting an expense report on your return or your employer needs a payment receipt that shows a record of where you've been and when, and if there are any mistakes, requesting a fare review online is easily done.
So the next time you're in London, do not pass a ticket vending machine, do not collect an Oyster card: a smartphone in-hand is all you need to get around the city.
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